Brenda Cooper

Thailand: The Conference

At the moment I am feeling very international as I am using a portable computer in the “ICT Experience Center” in the Seoul airport.  This is relevent because after being a speaker at the FutureGov Asia conference, I came away very impressed with the clear and committed focus of South Korea on internet infrastructure (including the adorable little PC I’m using with its multi-lingual keyboard, made by Samsung).  I’m also impressed with Singapore.  These countries are ahead of us in the US as far as actually delivering real high speed bandwidth.  Other countries, notably Thailand, are working with more focus than we seem to have to deliver broadband, although they have challenges as least as complex as ours.

These Asian countries are developing the tools that will be needed in the near future, and it gives them an economic edge that we are losing. Yes, American companies are doing a lot of the right things.  Yes, we still lead today in overall technology deployment.  But not in broadband, and I think not for long in other areas.  Not now, in a few measures.  We need focus and leadership and we seem to have lobbying. 

Of note, many of the presentations I heard were fascinating from a futurist perspective and convinced me that these countries are not only deploying broadband but they are also planning for accellerating change and for the next shifts after the information age. 

I will try to find time to post something in more depth later.  And I’ll post more pictures of Thailand tomorrow.  I’m looking forward to being home, but I’m sorry I didn’t have more time to be in Thailand and also to visit Singapore and South Korea. 

If we discount the focus, determination, and beauty of these countries we are fools.  There are two children next to me using the freely available computers and internet.  They look like they are about six years old, and their fingers are flying.

2 Responses so far

  1. 1. Matt Buchman

    I was a little daunted when, as a bleeding-edge IT techie from the U.S., I traveled to Singapore in 1993. The government had just wired the country with fiber optic, and I mean the whole country, every house, every apartment at the government’s expense. I also picked up a palm-sized computer with a 2/3-sized keyboard and a 20-line screen that stored 500k, had a built in contact/calendar and a nice word processor on which I wrote my first book. (Oh, and it ran 40 hours on two AA batteries.) When I asked why I’d never seen anything like this, Casio was only just starting their primitive pocket organizer in the U.S. in 1993, I was told, “Oh, we are not allowed to import it there because you have nothing that will compete with it.” SIGH!

  2. 2. brenda

    Nice comment Matt. And that’s right. We are not even trying to compete on a world stage any more, IMHO.